Is this the end for Jacques?

HARARE - One of the best Zimbabwean rugby players of the modern era, Sables vice-captain Jacques Leitao, could be lost to the game in this country due to relocation — despite the player himself vowing he is still committed to playing.

Leitao, 32, is moving to Malawi to pursue business interests and yesterday relinquished the captaincy of Old Georgians Sports Club to new club skipper Kudzai Muzorewa.

The talented loose forward has missed very few test matches for the Sables since making his debut more than 10 years ago, establishing himself as a key man in the side, a well-respected natural leader on and off the field.

With rugby being in its infancy in Malawi (the country’s federation was only admitted as a member of Africa Rugby at the body’s executive committee meeting last December), Leitao will not get any competitive playing opportunities there, but the experienced flanker insists he is not hanging up his boots just yet.

“I would like to play as much as I can. But as soon I stop being selected that will be the sign that I need to stop,” Leitao told the Daily News yesterday.

Hailing from Mutare, Leitao represented Hillcrest College in the city before moving to the capital Harare, where he initially joined Harare Sports Club.

At Sports Club, he was selected into Zimbabwe’s Under-21 side, teaming up with such players as ex-Springbok prop Brian Mujati, alongside Cleopas Makotose, Gardner Nechironga, Kisset Chirengende, Bernard Revell, Shephard Zvazanewako, among others.

He leaves a wonderful legacy at OGs, turning the Groombridge-based club into a dominant force of Zimbabwean domestic rugby.

Under his captaincy, the Grant Mitchell-coached side won several NRL and Sevens Summer Series titles, a period Leitao says “will leave long in his memory.”

Looking back, Leitao has many fond memories and the highlights were playing at the Sevens World Cup in 2009 and 2013.

He has been captain of Zimbabwe’s Sevens side since 2006 and played in several World Sevens Series tournaments. 

“Playing at two Sevens World Cups was probably the highlight of my career,” he said.

“We won the Bowl in 2009, to take silverware at that level was incredible. On a whole, playing top rugby on the world circuit was an eye opener. It made me realise that Zim has the talent to compete at that level but lack of resources weighs us down.”

Speaking on his decision to move to Malawi, he said: “Well, it’s a purely work decision. I am sure I will make time to play up there and make sure I am fit. I am still available for the national team selection.”

Leitao is however, saddened to leave local rugby in a depressing state, with no national league in place due to lack of sponsorship. 

“I think hopefully this year the clubs will arrange and sort something out so that they play amongst themselves. I think it won’t be good at all if nothing is being played,” he said.

“It’s a bit sad that things have come to this.”

Meanwhile, OGs yesterday paid tribute to Leitao in a club Facebook page post:  “We could never have asked for a greater leader at OGs and his footprint is firmly entrenched in this club. He has set the example as a leader, player, father, friend and Christian in our team. Thank you Jacques.”

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.